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Minnesota is rich in blogs, and rich in alternative media such as The Uptake and Daily Planet.  Is another blog really needed?  Good question!   My main reason for setting it up is to have a place to archive and link to various emails and posts I’ve sent about Minnesota environmental issues. Continue Reading →

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“Union Pacific aims to be first railroad to haul liquefied natural gas”

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Note the secrecy here, from both the Union Pacific and the Federal Railroad Administration (more a servant of than a regulator of the industry).

In the course of fighting a proposal for an LNG terminal in New Jersey, we learned a lot about the hazards of LNG.  Unit trains of this would make crude oil look benevolent by comparison.

The Union Pacific provides these maps of its system in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Could this be a foot-in-the-door for trains even more dangerous than the oil (bomb) trains?

am Continue Reading →

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Action alert: Some good bills and another mega horrible bill

A look at the bills up before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on March 26th illustrates how mixed the bag is.  Good bills, questionable bills,  and bad bills, and one mega-horrible bill. Continue Reading →

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Promised updates on details of mega-horrible bills….

This is the promised further detail on the “mega-horrible” bills being heard in a Senate committee at 4:00 pm this afternoon (Thursday, March 19th.

For the utility “deregulation” bills

see Carol Overland’s Legalectric.org post, “the problems with SF 1735″ .  Overland has been practicing utility regulatory law for a long time and knows the history behind the present scams.  This is complicated stuff that just can’t be reduced to sound bites, but here are two anyway:  (1) Utilities, expecially Xcel Energy, can pretty much afford to buy off everybody, and (2) Nobody in Minnesota government or politics seems to be publicly standing up for ratepayers, the environment, or the public interest.

Attorney General Lori Swanson has the authority to act on behalf of the public.  Ask her to do so:  (651) 296-3353 or 1-800-657-3787, Attorney.General@ag.state.mn.us.

[Note:  There is a “delete-all” amendment to S. F. 1431 which we received at 10:30 pm.  This new version does not seem to correct any of the problems people are objecting to.  It has new sections, some of which seem to raise new concerns.]

[Update:  The AG’s office DID appear at the hearing and oppose both the original bill and the delete-all amendment.  Kudos to Lori Swanson.]

For the “Energy Omnibus Bill, S.F. 1431,” see below

Continue Reading →

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Residents prevail: St. Paul abandons biomass incinerator scheme at Ford site

Anne Hunt has written a letter to the Highland Villager, appearing on March 18, 2015,  saying: “the site is not appropriate for that technology[biomass incineration]” and it’s been eliminated from consideration.

Below are two letters that appeard in the previous week’s Villager, one from Nancy Hone and one from Alan Muller: Continue Reading →

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RED ALERT: oppose mega-horrible utility deregulation bills

Well, I’ve been trying to warn about this.  On March 9th I wrote:

“The breadth and depth of NSP’s [Xcel’s] current efforts to gut the utility regulatory process and impose its will on Minnesota energy policy is breathtaking.  Stand by for more details on this.  And: expect some really horrible legislation to sneaked through the Minnesota Legislature.”

The really horrible bills are here: Continue Reading →

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Garbage prospers in the Minnesota Legislature

Photo of Senator Scalze

Sen. Bev Scalze

 

[This was my testimony on March 10, 2015, to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on S.F. 1132.  My statement was not prepared in advance and may have varied a little from this after-the-fact writeup. The authors of S.F. 1132 are listed as Senators Scalze, Ingebrigtsen, Saxhaug, Benson, and Schmit.  Scalze appeared to be the manager of the bill. She said repeatedly that “it came from the counties.”  She also said repeatedly that “the hauler community” (garbage haulers) had input.  During the meeting Scalze seemed to consult closely with one Trudy Richter, who she also presented as a witness on behalf of the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, a joint powers board closely associated with the incineration industry. Ms. Richter is Executive Director of the state garbage incineration lobby group.  Audio recordings are available here.  Consideration of S.F. 1132 began in the morning session and continued in the afternoon.] Continue Reading →

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[Wash Post] “Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/utilities-sensing-threat-put-squeeze-on-booming-solar-roof-industry/2015/03/07/2d916f88-c1c9-11e4-ad5c-3b8ce89f1b89_story.html

This, folks, is what is REALLY going on.  The good news is that the cost of solar has dropped and it’s really happening.  The bad news is that it will happen slowly and expensively if the utilities keep a chokehold on it.  Utilities have long since mastered the art of pretending to promote what they are actually blocking.  Perhaps no utility in the world is cleverer at this than Xcel Energy (Northern States Power Company).  The breadth and depth of NPS’s current efforts to gut the utility regulatory process and impose its will on Minnesota energy policy is breathtaking.  Stand by for more details on this.  And: expect some really horrible legislation to sneaked through the Minnesota Legislature.

Alan Muller Continue Reading →

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Renuking Minnesota?

monti1[1]Above: The Monticello reactor.  Note the tall stack used to vent cancer-causing radioactive gases.

(Please forgive the personal notes in this post.  So often we debate the technical merits of nuke power, without sufficiently considering the human side, the human impacts, of the decisions getting made.)

I’ve had more of a relationship with the nuclear industry than seems ideal.  In Delaware, I can look out a window and see the domes of three reactors.  In 2000, I wrote in an alert:

“Parts of New Castle County (DE) are in the “ingestion zones” (= within fifty miles) of 7 nuclear reactors (Limerick 1 and 2, Peach Bottom 2 & 3, Salem 1 and 2, and Hope Creek). While the nuclear industry has always claimed that it’s radiation output is too small to cause health problems, more and more reports are linking proximity to nuclear facilities to breast cancer, leukemia, childhood cancer and birth defects, and other health problems.”

Continue Reading →

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“What are we doing to our children’s brains?”

“Environmental chemicals are wreaking havoc to last a lifetime”

In November, election results put many anti-health, anti-environmental activists into public office.  Did this happen because millions of people said to themselves “I have too much money … we need more pollution and disease … corporations and banks are being oppressed by the people …?”  I doubt it, but the effect is the same. Continue Reading →

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“U.S. taxpayers help fund oil-train boom amid safety concerns”

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/u-s-taxpayers-help-fund-oil-train-boom-amid-safety/article_cd09f5c9-9c34-505b-a5dc-3abca7d069ce.html

As a follow up to the bridge story, see this piece from Reuters.

Minnesota is one of the states that has been somewhat forthcoming about oil train traffic.

Minnesota (MNDot) is in the process of developing a 2015 state rail plan.  This is in response to a federal requirement.  I attended a meeting about it in Red Wing but went away feeling less than fully enlightened.

 

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